By now everyone has heard of content marketing — using original content to educate prospects and clients, instead of bombarding them with product literature. Marketing collateral still has its place in the world, however content marketing is far more effective for both parties. I am more likely to read and trust the content of an article, over the marketing copy in an advertisement.
Content marketing can be used as a tool to educate clients on the benefits of your products and services while displaying your expertise in the marketplace. When done properly clients appreciate the information, making them more receptive to your marketing message and sales efforts. According to the Custom Content Council, 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, they are also more likely to buy from that company.
Content marketing isn’t new, it’s just another way of phrasing an old concept. Magazines have been using content marketing in the form of advertorials for decades. An advertorial is purchased advertising space, used instead for an article written by the advertiser. You can always identify advertorials by the disclaimer at the top of the page. This is to let the reader know the magazine had nothing to do with the creation of this content.
Content marketing comes in several forms, it can be written as an article, a video posted to YouTube, or a weekly podcast. I subscribe to several podcasts for both design and marketing. I find it easier to listen to a podcast while I am out for a run, or even as an alternative to watching TV. The point is that I am subscribing to, and consuming information provided by the content creators.
Do you remember the 1970’s SYMS clothing store commercials? Sy Syms was way ahead of his time when he would say “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Clients want to know more about your products and services, they want to be a part of the conversation, not just sold. I would never make a large purchase without first doing some research. It just makes me feel smarter during the sales process, and I am more likely to buy from the company that provided me with that experience.
According to LeadersWest Digital Marketing Journal, “Blogs convert readers into buyers. In fact, 42% of consumers look to blogs for information about potential purchases; 52% say blogs have impacted their purchase decisions; and 57% of marketers have acquired new customers with their blogs.”
Thanks to social media and blogging, client education and interaction is easier, and much more cost effective today than it has ever been. The real expense is your time, and possibly having a professional editor clean up your text. AOL and Nielsen reported that 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared everyday.
The benefits of creating original content goes beyond direct sales. When you blog or write for your website you are perceived as an expert in your field. Writing displays a confidence in your skill that clients appreciate. It also shows that you are passionate, and actually like what you do for a living.
A side benefit of creating content for my own website is that it forces me to dig deeper, and find something to say about my business. Sitting in front of my computer, without any distractions allows me to think about what I want to say to my clients. This blog gives my business a voice.
In case you are still on the fence about content marketing, below is a list of some the benefits content marketing:
- Content marketing establishes you as a thought leader, and a domain expert.
- B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t. (Social Media B2B)
- Content marketing is a great way to assist in the sales process.
- It pulls in new customers from unexpected sources. Useful information gets shared online, and a potential new client just might be reading.
- The cost of content marketing is relatively cheap compared to most other marketing options. Your time is the biggest investment, and that is time well spent.
- It helps you build a log-term audience, and boost customer engagement, opening the door for conversation. You might just learn something about your customers, and yourself, you didn’t already know.
- Content marketing attracts people with an interest in what you have to say. They are seeking answers, and hopefully you can help them.
- Content marketing can work in ANY industry and allows smaller companies to compete on a level playing field.
- Content marketing will enhance your corporate, as well as your personal brand.
- Your audience will see you as an advisor, an authority that has their best interest at heart.
- Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound marketing leads have a 1.7% close rate. (Hubspot)
- Educating your customers can only benefit your sales process.
- Content marketing reinforces confidence in your ability to solve your clients problems, or meet their needs.
- Content marketing is recyclable and can be repurposed. It can be emailed to clients, used on your blog, shared socially, it can even reused in marketing collateral.
- Companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads (Content+ 2013)
- Online presence is a must for businesses, as 93% of online research starts with a search engine, and 68% of consumers check out companies on social networking sites before buying. (Brandpoint)
- Google loves content, and improving your search engine position is always a good thing!
Content marketing and client education should be a part of every sales and marketing strategy. Open up your word processing application, and start getting those thought out of your head.